12 November 2005

I sent the following message to committee members of Leicester Secular Society. The same invitation is open to any members:

Now that I've, more or less. got the hang of it I'm proposing to open up the "Leicester Secularist" Blog to allow other members of the Society to post messages or links to interesting sites, etc. Would those interested in being part of the "Team" please let me know and I will put you on the list and send you instructions for posting messages.

You can post something once a month, or weekly, or more often - you will just need to check that someone else hasn't posted it already. At the moment I will be the only one able to edit the posts, but this could probably be widened once we see how it goes.

I've just posted a message (date 11 November), the previous one being 31 October. However I often find that it doesn't appear on the blog until the next day, or else it appears in the "archive" section but not on the main page. This can be a bit frustrating but seems to be the way the system works.

So far my message of 11 November hasn't appeared! Perhaps this new message will push it along a bit. So far I've had one response (from Shani Lee of Frontline Books) and sent her an official invitation to sign in.

Thank you for inviting me to join the blog, George. Like you, this is a new (and very interesting) world to me. As is any kind of formal Secularism.

When I first came to Leicester, the Society and its programme of talks was one of the things that attracted my attention. I moved here from London, where I'd grown up, and I'm very definitely a big-city person.

But I liked the look of Leicester. At the time there was an Unemployed Workers' Centre, several Women's Centres and the City led the way in England with new ideas about Community Enterprise and wealth creation. I was especially attracted by Leicester's ethnic diversity, which reflected the communities in London where I had grown up.

The Secular Society, I thought, was somewhere I would be able to meet kindred spirits and make new friends.

Ironically, even though my bus stopped everyday outside the Secular Hall, I wasn't to join the Society until many years later when I became interested in the book shop.

I'm still putting together my ideas about Secularism. It's interesting to me how big a part religion plays in people's lives - in some sort of subversive, subliminal way often without them being aware of it.

A crucial point for me is how people accept, without question, some idea of authority, even though they have no evidence for the validity of that authority.

I listened to Madonna on Parkinson last night, where she was expressing similar views about the religion she was brought up in. She was saying that religion is about not asking questions, and her childhood religion had no answers for her questions. She's chosen a different route: the Kabbalah, something I know nothing about but which provides meaning for her.

For new viewers, if you'd like to know more about Frontline Books and the things we do, please visit our website: www.frontlinebooks.co.uk.
I had briefly been a member of the South Place Ethical Society when I worked in London in the early 1980s, but never really got involved. There seemed to me to be too much sectarianism between secularists, humanists, ethicists, rationalists all with their own organisations.

When I moved to Leicester in 1999, and began to check out what was going on, I found Leicester Secular Society was active (Fred Lee was President then). I found I got on well with the like-minded people there, and became a regular.

Then in 2000 I found the Stayfree foundation was providing a free course on computing, learnt HTML and began setting up websites, including one for the Society. I also produced four issues of a newsletter.

Kaballah as I understand it is a Jewish mystical system based on a diagram of ten nodes, numbered 0 to 9, and connected in a pattern called the "tree of life". I published my own theory of the origin of this diagram in one of the online issues of my "Games and Puzzles Journal".

It was connected by occultist Aleister Crowley with the Tarot by labelling the links with the 22 major tarot cards (and the 22 Hebrew letters). It also has connections with "gematria" (or "numerology") whereby words (in Hebrew) are converted into numbers. Notably the famous 666 "Number of the Beast". Frankly it's all a load of twaddle, though fascinating nevertheless.

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